Poplarville school board shows rare split on two issues

Published 1:53 pm Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In a rare split vote, the Poplarville city school board voted to fill  two positions on Monday by a 3-2 vote.

The board moved to hire a special education teacher, who in addition would coach soccer, and a physical education teacher who would also work after hours as a basketball coach.

Board members Samuel Gentry and Lisa Graves voted against the hirings, while board president and board member Todd Nodurft and board member and vice president Violine Jordan and board secretary and member Shirline Magee voted in favor of the motions. Both motions on the positions passed on 3-2 votes.

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Nodurft, in connection with the special education teacher, asked for any discussion. There was none, and then he called for the vote. Jordan, Nodurft and Magee raised their hands in favor. Nodurft then tried to move to the second hire.

Said Gentry, “Hold up. You didn’t ask who’s against.”

Said Nodruft, “Oh, I am sorry. I thought you voted for it.”

Replied Gentry, “Nope.”

Said Nodruft, “All opposed.”

Gentry, “I am against it.”

Said Graves, “I can’t vote for it either.”

Said Supt. Carl Merritt, “This is a mandated hire.”

Said finance director Samantha Sandifer, “They give us the number of units for this and we have to fill it.”

That did not budge Graves or Gentry.

Said Gentry, “I am sure we have someone on our payroll who could fill those needs. I am not saying rehire one; I am saying just hire him or her in-house. We are going to be out there next year banging our heads together to try and keep what we have.”

He added, “We have enough already here. We need to take care of what we have. It might make it a little uncomfortable for a little while, but the economy has got us all that way, or most of us anyway.”

Nodruft then asked Graves was she opposed. “I am opposed. I just can’t vote for it.”

Said Nodruft, “So there are two opposed.”

The vote was the same, 3-2, each voting the same, on the second person hired, a PE teacher and basketball coach. 

In other matters, the board:

— Heard a report from school official Glenda Malley. Malley said the graduation rate at Poplarville is 79.4 percent compared to the state’s 71.4; the completion rate is 85.6 percent at Poplarville compared to the state’s 79 percent; and the drop-out rate is 12.6 percent compared to the state’s 16.7. She said the school has seen steady improvement in cutting the drop-out rate since instituting a drop-out prevention plan two years ago.

— Approved the fiscal year 2010-2011 original budget.

— Approved the 2010-2011 collaborative agreement with the Mississippi Action for Progress, Mill Creek of Magee and the partnership concept with the Children’s Center for Communication and Development.

— Heard a report from architect Victor Morena of Bailey Architect of Hattiesburg on renovations being done at the schools. The renovations, which are major, are being funded with a $3 million federal bond issue program, on which the school district does not pay any interest. Morena said the school has expended about one-half of the funds available so far.

— Approved the following handbooks: Employee; high, middle, lower and upper; transportation, food service employee; new teacher induction program; substitute and athletic.

— Approved resignations and recommendations.

— Approved the $152,360 high bid of Joe N. Miles & Sons for cutting timber on sixteenth section lands 16-3-15.

— Authorized publishing the fiscal year 2010-2011 original budget.

— Approved to release students; to accept out-of-district students; approved the IDELA, Part B and Preschool and the American Recovery Reinvestment ACDT Part B and Preschool Budgets for 2010-2011; approved the visual impairment consultant agreement for 2010-2010; approved the therapeutic agreement; approved disposal of equipment; and approved the claim docket, payroll, financial statement, activity fund receipts and minutes of the June 14 and regular board meeting and June 23 special board meeting.

— Adjourned to Aug. 9. The board has moved its regularly scheduled monthly meeting from 6:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at school board offices at Julia and West Pearl streets. The board regularly meets the second Monday of each month, but can call “special called” meetings between the regular board meetings if needed.

Monday’s board meeting was held at 7:30 a.m. so that Merritt could attend the state superintendents’ educational conference and workshop on the Coast on Monday.

The meeting lasted about 30 minutes.